1. George Weigel on the case of Cardinal Pell.

“Conversations with Consequences”, Episode 6

This week on the TCA podcast, our host Dr. Grazie Christie is joined by TCA colleague Andrea Picciotti-Bayer and George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, to discuss the highly suspect conviction on charges of the child sexual abuse of Australian Cardinal George Pell and the pending appeal that will be heard next week. 


2. Pope Francis, in Romania, Warns of Populism’s Dangers, In a three-day trip to the former communist country, the pope will seek to heal an ancient schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

By Jason Horowitz and Kit Gillet, New York Times Online, May 31, 2019

Days after European elections emboldened nationalists in the heart of Europe, Pope Francis arrived on Friday in Romania, on the Catholic and European periphery, to appeal for unity and assert himself as the global conscience on the dangers of populism.

In his three-day trip to the former communist country, now a staunchly pro-European member state, the pope will try to heal an ancient schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

But he reminded the Continent of its common values and lent support to Romanian emigrants and a Roma ethnic minority that, in some countries, has again become a target of right-wing vitriol.


3. Otherwise Quiet Voice Grows Loud on Abortion.

By Michael Tackett, The New York Times, May 31, 2019, Pg. A18

Vice President Mike Pence has been a metronome of consistency in providing dutiful affirmation for President Trump. He nods approvingly. He claps enthusiastically. He defends vigorously.

So it was highly unusual when Mr. Pence broke with form this week, actually getting out front of the president and praising a concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in a case in which the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal seeking to reinstate an Indiana law banning abortions sought solely because of the sex or disability of a fetus.

The case involved a law that Mr. Pence had signed as governor, but he was uncharacteristically outspoken.

But while Mr. Trump may be the louder voice on the issue, Mr. Pence’s is the one many evangelicals hear. Mr. Pence has been Mr. Trump’s bridge to the white, conservative evangelical community that has provided a durable foundation for the president’s support that is also essential to his prospects for a second term.

Mr. Pence has spoken at the annual March for Life rally of anti-abortion activists, the first vice president to do so, while Mr. Trump appeared on a video. The march was the rare moment when the vice president was the headliner at an event where the president was also a presence.

He has criticized Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, saying the court at the time had “turned its back” on the right to life.


4. These Millennials Got New Roommates. They’re Nuns, A project called Nuns and Nones moved religion-free millennials into a convent.

By Nellie Bowles, New York Times Online, May 31, 2019

Sarah Jane Bradley was an unmarried, “spiritual but not religious” professional in her early 30s, with a rowdy group of friends and a start-up when she moved out of her communal house and into a convent.

A bunch of friends went with her.

They called the project Nuns and Nones, and they were the “nones” — progressive millennials, none of whom were practicing Catholics. Intended to be a pilot project, the unusual roommate situation with the Sisters of Mercy would last for six months.

These are also hard times for the sisters. The average age of a Roman Catholic nun in the United States is close to 80. Convents around the country are closing. The number of nuns in the United States has collapsed from 180,000 in 1965 to below 50,000 today. Sisters are passing leadership at Catholic hospitals and schools to lay people.

At the same time, millennials are the least religious group of people in America — only about 27 percent attend weekly religious services. Young women who aspire to lives of good works without the burden of a husband are quite able to do that now without Catholicism.

Yet for small pockets of the young, urban and progressive, the convent is calling. Their radical politics took them all the way around and back to the Catholic Church.

5. Could Prostitution Be the Next Vice to Be Decriminalized?

By Jesse McKinley, New York Times Online, May 31, 2019

Marijuana has gone mainstream, casino gambling is everywhere and sports wagering is spreading. Could prostitution be next?

Lawmakers across the country are beginning to reconsider how to handle prostitution, as calls for decriminalization are slowly gaining momentum.

Decriminalization bills have been introduced in Maine and Massachusetts; a similar bill is expected to be introduced to the City Council in Washington D.C. in June; and lawmakers in Rhode Island held hearings last month on a proposal to study the impact of decriminalizing prostitution.


6. Inside China’s War on Christians, As the faithful grow in number, Beijing steps up repression that is wide and deep.

By Nina Shea and Bob Fu, The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2019, Pg. A13, Houses of Worship
Ms. Shea is a fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Fu, a pastor, is founder of ChinaAid.

June 4, 1989, was a seminal day for China’s faithful, as the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The same day, Communist Party leaders watched as pro-democracy candidates in Poland supplanted Communist rule—with Pope John Paul II’s indispensable support. Together the events jolted Beijing into tightening its control over religion.

Post-Tiananmen, Christian groups were made to register with state “patriotic” associations or risk punishment as “evil cults.” Anxious to maintain access to Western markets, Beijing selectively enforced these rules in large cities. The rural Christian underground bore the brunt of church closings and mass internment of their members in labor camps.

President Xi Jinping last year began enforcing religious regulations to rein in church growth and bend Christian belief to party dictates.

The Vatican’s agreement with Beijing on episcopal appointments has not spared China’s Catholics. Pope Francis recognized all eight of Mr. Xi’s bishop selections, while the Chinese state has yet to reciprocate with any of the Vatican’s 30 bishops. In April two patriotic association priests who had received papal approval for episcopal ordination years before the agreement were selected as bishops. China still withholds information on Bishop James Su Zhimin and 11 other detained clerics.

Hong Kong Bishop Emeritus Joseph Zen, who insistently warned about Beijing’s intentions, has been vindicated.

Since the agreement was signed, two popular Marian pilgrimage shrines were demolished. Several underground Catholic priests and a bishop were detained and forced into Communist Party “re-education” sessions. This month authorities began demolishing two dozen Catholic churches in Hebei. Meantime, the Vatican heralded the opening of its pavilion at the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition.


7. Josh Hawley’s Legal Principles, Conservatives will suffer under his standard for judicial nominees.

The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2019, Pg. A14, Review & Outlook

An acute danger in these polarized times is that partisans will trample core American principles to achieve their political goals. One such principle is that every American deserves legal representation, and a corollary is that lawyers don’t have to agree with their clients to represent them.

On the left, Harvard recently violated this principle when it punished law professor Ronald Sullivan for defending Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of sexual assault. And on the right, last week Missouri’s GOP Senator Josh Hawley attacked a judicial nominee for his defense of a client in private practice.

The case deals with a Catholic plaintiff who was banned from selling at a farmers market for saying that he wouldn’t host a same-sex wedding at his farm.

Mr. Bogren wrote in a brief for the city that there “can be no constitutionally sound argument that sincerely held religious beliefs would permit a secular business to avoid the prohibitions against racial discrimination or gender discrimination found in Federal, State and local laws.” Mr. Bogren wrote that a Ku Klux Klan member who opposed interracial marriage “who ran a business similar to the plaintiffs’ business would not be able to invoke” the First Amendment to elude antidiscrimination laws.

This is a debatable legal argument, but Mr. Bogren was trying to make the best case for his client—as he is obliged to do under the canon of legal ethics. Yet Mr. Hawley accused Mr. Bogren of personal hostility toward Catholics.

Mr. Hawley’s questioning is a precedent that conservatives will regret. If nominees can be disqualified for every argument they make for a client, conservative judicial nominees will soon find themselves blocked from judgeships for defending religious liberty. Consider Kyle Duncan, recently confirmed for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who had challenged ObamaCare’s contraception mandate for the Becket Fund.

For many on the right and left these days, principles are merely weapons of temporary convenience in the battle for power. But such thinking breeds contempt for the law, and that is dangerous for all Americans, especially for cultural conservatives who need the law to defend against an increasingly coercive left. Defenders of religious liberty shouldn’t imitate Harvard’s situational legal ethics.


8. Surprised by all these abortion bans? Meet Americans United for Life — the most significant antiabortion group you’ve never heard of.

By Susan Roberts, Washington Post Online, May 31, 2019, 7:45 AM

This week, Louisiana became the latest state to pass a strict abortion ban, in its case after six weeks of pregnancy, which the governor has said he will sign. It’s just the latest instance of in a surge of laws restricting abortion access.

Why are these underway? The obvious reasons, of course, are the combination of conservative state legislatures and Brett M. Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court; many expect that his fifth reliably conservative vote will enable the court to undo Roe v. Wade. But look a little more deeply, and you’ll find that Americans United for Life has, over the past four decades, been quietly laying the groundwork for abortion restrictions that don’t attract the attention of the media and public.

Here’s what you need to know about an influential group that has avoided the spotlight.


9. Corporations are getting dragged into a debate they’ve long sought to avoid: Abortion.

By Jena McGregor, Washington Post Online, May 31, 2019, 7:30 AM

For weeks, large corporations have been deafeningly silent on the wave of restrictive abortion laws being adopted in a growing number of states. Despite years of speaking out on social issues such as LGBTQ rights, immigration policy and even gun control, companies have seemed to approach the new abortion restrictions like an untouchable third rail, cautious to lend their voice to what has long been the most polarizing debate in the nation.

But a confluence of forces could make it more challenging for companies to remain quiet on the sidelines, dragging them into a contentious national discussion at a time when more employees and consumers expect corporations to take a stand on social issues.

This week, three entertainment giants — Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia — became the first major studios to suggest the new law in Georgia could make them rethink their work in the state.


10. Half of Americans consider abortion morally wrong: Gallup.

By John Bowden, The Hill Online, May 31, 2019, 9:18 AM

Half of Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong, according to a new poll, greater than the percentage who said definitively that it is morally acceptable.

In a Gallup poll released this week, abortion remained one of the most divisive issues in America, with 50 percent of respondents calling the practice morally impermissible and 42 percent saying that it was an acceptable medical procedure.

The poll showed a wide gap between respondents who self-identified as very liberal or very conservative, with 73 percent of very liberal respondents calling the practice morally permissible and 23 percent of very conservative respondents saying the same.


11. Pope Francis tells Romania to remember ‘cultural and spiritual roots’.

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, May 31, 2019

Pope Francis landed in the Eastern European country of Romania on Friday, where he warned about the “hurdles” created by progress and called for “a greater collaboration” among its political and religious authorities.

“Confronting the problems of this new chapter of history, identifying effective solutions, and finding the resolve to implement them, calls for greater cooperation on the part of the nation’s political, economic, social and spiritual forces,” Francis said in a speech to local authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps in the capital city of Bucharest.

“To move forward together, as a way of shaping the future, requires a noble willingness to sacrifice something of one’s own vision or best interest for the sake of a greater project, and thus to create a harmony that makes it possible to advance securely towards shared goals,” he added.


12. English cardinal calls for more to be done to rebuild Iraqi Christian communities.

By Charles Collins, Crux, May 31, 2019

England’s top prelate has called for more to be done to rebuild the towns and villages of Iraq’s Nineveh plains after they were destroyed by the Islamic State group.

The region is the heartland of Christianity in the country, and the Christian community was forced to flee after the Islamic State group took over the area in 2014.

After the Islamist militants were pushed out of the region, efforts have been made to move Christian families back into their homes.

However, from a pre-2003 total of 1.5 million, Iraq’s Christian population has declined to fewer than 150,000. Although most have fled abroad, there are hopes that those who sought refuge in Iraq’s relatively peaceful Kurdish regions will be able to return to Nineveh.


13. The Answer that Women and Families Seek.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, May 31, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation of the Lord in which, among other things, we ponder the in uterointeraction between Jesus and John the Baptist. Mary, a few days pregnant with her Creator, visits her elderly cousin Elizabeth, six-months pregnant with of the forerunner of the One through whom all things were made. John, before his vocal chords had developed to be the voice crying in the wilderness, testified to Jesus by making his mom’s womb a peritoneal trampoline, leaping with joy. Jesus, before his human fingers and hand had even formed, nevertheless blessed his cousin, sanctifying him for his mission of preparing Jesus’ way.

It’s an extraordinary mystery, one that is particularly significant for those in pro-life work. The Sisters of Life, for whom I am privileged to celebrate Mass six days a week, name all of their outreach centers helping pregnant women choose life — in New York, Toronto, and Philadelphia —“Visitation” Missions. They seek to live, and show the Church how to live, both sides of this Visitation mystery.

In contrast to the throwaway, eugenic inhumanity that undergirds the abortion of handicapped children and others, this warm, welcoming culture of parents and medical professionals to kids in fragile situations manifests a culture of love. It’s the only adequate answer to another human being, however young, however disabled. It’s the culture that Christians find in the mystery of the Visitation.


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